According to the classical definition, the military electorate means a circle of voters, which vote for a military candidate during the elections. Meanwhile, during the last few years the scientists introduced a little bit different interpretation of this notion. Now the analysts include into the military electorate the people with the so-called settled defense conscience, which vote for one or several candidates, which have similar election programs, which meet the military-patriotic demands.
Thus, the military electorate means the servicemen (not only of the Armed Forces, but also of the Interior Ministry, federal Security Service, Federal Border Guards Service, FAGLI and so on), members of their families, military pensioners, broad circles of Cossacks, as well as the people, involved in the military-industrial complex. Analysis of results of the last presidential elections, conducted with the use of the information about the sympathies of the main social groups of the population, demonstrates that in the structure of voters the share of representatives of the so-called military electorate equaled approximately 18 million people. This time it will not be less, and will probably be a little bit higher. Let us count. The authorized personnel of the Armed Forces as of January 1 of 1999 equaled 1,200,000 people. In addition we also need to take into account the civil personnel of the Armed Forces. Its quantity is also big, approximately 800,000 people. We also need to add the Interior Ministry personnel, which is maintained on the funds of the federal budget: some 540,000; servicemen and civil personnel of the Interior Forces- some 220,000 people; Federal Security Service agents- at least 60,000 people; servicemen and civil personnel of the Federal Border Guards service- some 210,000 people; servicemen and civil personnel of FAGLI- approximately 54,000 and tax police agents- at least 40,000 people.
This electorate is enforced by the same number of the members of families of the servicemen of the Interior Ministry, Federal Border Guards Service, FAGLI and Federal Security Service, plus 7 million employees of the military-industrial complex enterprises, scientific-research institutes and design bureaus (as well as the members of their families) and more than 5 million people of former professional servicemen of the KGB, Interior Ministry and Armed Forces and broad circles of the Cossacks. Thus, the current military electorate in Russia equals approximately 18-20 million people.
Much smaller attendance of the voters is predicted for the parliamentary elections of 1999 in comparison to the presidential elections of 1996. Hence, it is the votes of the military electorate, which can define the result of the competition between the candidates. For example, if some 60 million people come to the polling stations, the share of the disciplined military electorate in it will equal approximately 33.3%. This will be the nucleus, which can ensure the victory for this or that election bloc or movement.
For whom will the military electorate vote?
Now there are no special detailed reports about the sympathies of the people, which form the military electorate. This results from the fact that representatives of this group belong to different social strata of the society. Meanwhile, we can be sure that in the current conditions the people with the settled defense conscience will vote for representatives of the patriotic spectrum, which are in the opposition to the current regime. Arranged according to the importance level these can be the following figures and political movements: 1) Zyuganov (CPRF), 2) Luzhkov (left-wing centrist forces), 3) Zhirinovsky (LDPR), 4) representatives of the moderate non-communist patriotic wing (Baburin, Rogozin and so on), 5) representatives of the radical political movements (Barkashov, Limonov, Makashov and so on).
A part of the military electorate will likely vote for Lebed and his movement, but we think that this part will be smaller in comparison to the elections to the Duma in 1995 and presidential elections of 1996. Anyway, like during the last presidential elections, Lebed will take some votes from the communists.
What will condition the motives of the voting?
The current attitude of the military electorate can be defined like the moderately discontent and opposition. Its opposition character is defined by the low social and material welfare of the people of this group. The following factors influence the motives and attitude of the people.
The financial-economic factor. The debts to the state employees and pensioners reach enormous digits. The wages arrears to the personnel of the Armed Forces, Interior Forces and defense plants equal from two to six months. Even the officers of the Defense Ministry and General Staff receive the money allowances two months later than necessary.
The country’s leadership is unable to fulfill its promises regarding improvement of the welfare of the officers of security agencies and the civilians, employed by the military-industrial complex.
The social factor, associated with the living conditions. Now there are approximately 80,000 families of homeless servicemen in the Armed Forces. The state system for housing provision to the discharged servicemen in 1998-2000 is not fulfilled due to the underfinancing. The overall number of professional servicemen (homeless and those, who need improvement of their living conditions) equals 200,000. Thus, 25% of the officers or warrant-officers, who need the housing, are, to put it mild, angry with the current authorities. The military pensioners, unemployed specialists of the military-industrial complex, many agents of the Federal Security Service and Interior Ministry are in the analogous condition.
The factor, associated with reforming of the Armed Forces. Besides the positive aspects, the troops reduction and formation of the new structure of the Armed Forces has some negative ones. Absence of the due financing negatively influences the quality of the personnel’s combat training. The officers see that the country’s leadership is not interested, or is really unable in improvement of the level of the troops’ combat-readiness.
The Armed Forces are reduced, but they still lack the military personnel. Extreme moral-psychological and physical overload represent one of the main motive of retirement of majority of the junior officers. As a result the overall shortage of the officers in the Russian Armed Forces at the end of 1998 equaled 11.5%. Junior officers’ posts accounted for some 36% of the overall lack of officers.
The social-ethnic factor. Now 33.3% officers in the Russian Armed Forces originate from Ukraine or Belorussia, plus the same number of officers and warrant-officers having wives from the new independent states. Their relations with the relatives are now hindered, that is why many representatives of the military electorate will wish to vote for a candidate, which supports the ideas of unification of the new Slavic republics into a new state.
President Yeltsin understood this tendency in the attitude of the Russian population very well and offered activation of the process of unification with Belorussia. Anyway, during the elections the military electorate will hardly vote for Yeltsin. Today practically all patriotic-minded parties and movements of the opposition speak about unification. The public opinion still associates Yeltsin with the image of one of the main destroyers of the USSR.
Thus, the current year, when the parliamentary elections will be organized, can define the new disposition of forces in the country. The parliament will undoubtedly become “redder” more left-wing oriented, but now it is difficult to say if it will include many representatives of the left-wing center. Everything depends upon the work of the representatives of the centrist movements with the masses, including the military electorate, the sympathies of which will be decisive.